Dr. Al Balkin
His daughter Linda advised me last evening, that our longtime friend and colleague, Dr. Al Balkin, died. Dr. Al was buried this morning at the Beaufort Military cemetery. Unfortunately, I receive Linda’s e-mail too late for me to make the Beaufort service. If I’d been able to make Dr. Al’s Service, here is what I would have said:
Pat and I met Dr. Al Balkin twenty years ago on Hilton Head. We were looking for a composer to write some songs for a show Pat planned to do at our theatre, South Carolina Repertory Company, in conjunction with the opening of the new Arts Center on Hilton Head. A friend suggested we call Dr. Al.
We met Dr. Al and Rita Balkin in their home and explained what we were looking for. Three weeks later, we returned to listen to Dr. Al’s suggested music for our show. IT WAS WONDERFUL!
Dr. Al played his original music for us and the show was a huge success. We enjoyed working with him and talked about his doing more shows for the live theatre Pat and I had founded on Hilton Head.
Dr. Al Balkin did many shows for us over the next nineteen years. He wrote every show and performed them himself. He had a wonderful singing voice and occasionally, he had singers with him. He introduced our audience to famous composers and musicians like Irving Berlin, Rogers & Hammerstein, Cole Porter, and the Savannah composer, Johnny Mercer. We did his shows on Hilton Head and in Savannah. He educated numerous audience members about the Broadway and Hollywood world of music and musicians.
I got to know Dr. Al very well and admired him greatly. We played tennis together and went to movies, ate dinner and lunch on many occasions. He was a marvelous storyteller and had a world of knowledge about a variety of subjects.
I recently heard from Dr. Al’s friend, Lindy Lindenbaum, that he wasn’t doing too well. I wrote Dr. Al a letter to let him know we were still thinking of him. I’m not sure if Al ever saw my letter.
My Grandfather, Rev. Alfred R. Hussey, a Unitarian minister, once wrote the attached poem and delivered it 93 years ago to the memory of his friend, Clarence Erskine Kelley, of the Astronomical Department of Harvard University. I write it today in memory of my good friend, Dr. Al Balkin, who was, indeed, a STAR.
Another star has blazed into the sight
Of watchers on far mountain tops. Nova they name
This new-found sun:
Just now the light
Has reached this earth.
On this same night
Another soul has passed from out this world;
An old astronomer his sail has furled
And drifted on the tide beyond the fight.
Another star has lit the evening sky:
Is not this gleaming point of distant light
A tribute to a life whose patient years
Were spent searching with faith’s steadfast eye
To find the truth writ far beyond the night
Made dark by human strife and human tears?